No BS Blog

How to Land a PR Internship

June 1, 2017

Internships. Ugh, am I right? As a college student, you’re told by your professors, family, and well-meaning strangers that you must have internship experience to be a successful adult post-grad. While not a requirement, internships do signal to potential employers that you took the time to gain experience outside of the classroom. The good news? Internships can be awesome and worth every second of your time!

At Barokas PR, we take pride in offering a fun, worthwhile internship program for current students willing to take the plunge. Our interns spend their days learning from team members and supporting accounts with real work (no coffee runs here, folks).

How do you land one of these awesome positions? After receiving many resumes, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to earn you a position here (or wherever you’re applying).

  1. Craft the perfect (brief) introductory email

We receive lots of these – usually during an incredibly busy workday – so make sure yours is brief, memorable, personal and has an attached resume. We want to be able to read the email and get to know who you are as quickly as possible. This may seem obvious, but do not send your resume and cover letter attached to an email with no body copy. Please.

  1. Do your research on the company

We’re pretty cool if you take the time to get to know us. Call out what you love about Barokas PR (flattery is a powerful thing, people) in your first email and subsequent interview. Show us you care about working here enough to become a Barokas PR expert like us.

  1. Check your emails and supporting documents for errors

That is all.

  1. Highlight how awesome you are

You know you’re awesome, experienced, hardworking, etc. but we don’t…yet. Tell us why we should pull your resume out of a stack and bring you in for an interview. Provide tangible examples of past leadership and skills you can bring to this internship.

  1. Name drop – Better yet, find a way to be referred from the inside

Become a LinkedIn pro and do a bit of connection stalking. Is there a BPRer who went to your university? Does your friends older sister work here? Reach out! Make a connection, express your interest, and then email about an internship.

  1. Prepare for your interview

Internship interviews are usually 30-minutes long with two Barokas PR staff members. How are you going to make an impression? When a student comes prepared with knowledge of recent Barokas PR news, culture and clients (read the blog and follow us on social media) they standout. Bonus points if you bring a printed resume and work examples! 🙂

  1. Follow up

Connect with your interviewers on LinkedIn and send a thank you note, either through email or snail mail.

  1. Apply for a term other than summer

We understand a summer internship is often the only option due to location and schedules during the regular school year, but competition is fierce for summer positions. Apply for winter, spring or fall if possible to improve your chances!

9. Be persistent

As with any potential internship or job, following up is key. The PR industry is hectic and emails sometimes fall to the bottom of the inbox. Your persistence shows your interest and dedication to interning at Barokas PR. Plus, it’s a great skill to have in PR. Trust us, coverage for our clients usually doesn’t happen without persistence.

Finally, BIG thanks to our two awesome spring interns, Darby and Ashley. We are going to miss you! Stay in touch. <3

 

-Kayla

 

 

 

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To pro-bono or not to pro-bono? There is no question (at least for us!)

May 31, 2017

In a recent blog post, we declared we give a shit with the launch of our Corporate Social Responsibility program. This program highlights our commitment to providing work pro-bono to non-profits. But before you start racking up pro-bono clients, it’s important to recognize whether or not your company is ready to take on this type of account.

Before you dive in, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the organization’s goals and values align with those set forward by my company?
  • Does my team have the bandwidth to successfully manage the work?
  • How long is my commitment to this pro-bono account?
  • How will I measure success?

 

For Barokas PR, taking on pro-bono accounts perfectly aligned with our company culture and core values. And while a corporate social responsibility program is a giant step in the right direction, it is not necessary in order to start working with pro-bono clients. In fact, Barokas PR didn’t even have a CSR plan in place when we starting making pro-bono a part of our company culture, it simply made sense for us at the time. Additionally, most pro-bono clients will be happy to have your support, even if it’s on a short-term basis.

The first organization in Barokas PR’s pro-bono portfolio was Splash, a social justice organization dedicated to bringing water, sanitation, and hygiene (WaSH) solutions to children living in urban poverty in Asia and Africa. Our PR campaigns amplify the organization’s work around the world and promote the vision of Splash founder, Eric Stowe. Over the last two years, we’ve also had the opportunity to educate the market on the technology behind Splash’s water filtration system, which removes 99.999% of bio-contaminants and bad tastes and odors from water.

Denver Art Museum

Our work doesn’t stop there. We recently started managing social and media relations for DAM Contemporaries, a support group for the Modern & Contemporary department of the Denver Art Museum. Through PR, we support the organization’s programming and fundraising efforts which drive a vibrant contemporary arts community in Denver. We’re also partnering with Global EIR and Pledge 1% Colorado, which we will highlight in a future blog post.

So after all of that, what’s the answer to my question? Of course, go the pro-bono route, but only if it’s the right fit for BOTH parties. Now go forth and pro bono, you won’t regret it!

-Jamie

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The Press Release: Dead or Alive?

May 30, 2017

From flirting to Presidential addresses, just about everything about the way we communicate has transformed. Gone are the days of love letters and fireside chats and it seems like 140 character announcements, video messages that automatically delete in 24 hours and status updates are here to stay. With companies taking an increasingly digital approach to communications—both internally and externally—are our PR tactics adapting at a parallel pace?

Let’s take the press release as an example. Created during a much more traditional, and slower paced era of communications, the traditional press release was a valuable tool for firms to share important news with the only conduit to the public available at that time: the press. Yet, we now live in a world where attention spans are small, newsrooms are even smaller and a large percentage of people get their information directly through social channels, so can we continue to justify or even recommend the press release as a valuable PR tactic?

It’s clear that this debate remains a heated one amongst PR pros, media members and brands, which is why I won’t take a specific side, instead I’ll lay out some of the factors that play into the debate, and you can decide if the press release is dead or alive for yourself.

Some People Still Request Press Releases

One of the most common responses an entry level PR person receives as they call down newsrooms for clients is, “Send me a press release and I’ll let you know.” So, it seems that some press people actually want a release to get the relevant information they need to make an informed decision about whether they will pursue a story or not. The question is, is this a genuine response or a tactic used to shew eager publicists quickly?

Press Releases Can Help a Brand’s SEO

It’s true that Google changed their tune on the value of press releases in 2015, when the search engine announced their algorithm would allow companies’ own statements to appear atop searches, which was good news for proponents of the press release. As such, when releases include the right keywords and are distributed using wire services, they can help land higher search results. Yet, some still argue that press releases are not SEO tools and while national publications do pick up releases from the wire, most are relegated to obscure and hard to access areas of the site that get little to no traffic and fail to rank highly in searches.

Investors Want to See Press Releases

A common phrase heard from startup founders is, “Our investors need to see press releases so they know we are making progress,” or “We need these releases to secure more funding.” Like reporters, it seems that the real truth behind this statement is more art than science. While some investors may rely on press releases to stay abreast of their portfolio clients’ progress, others flatly state they’ve never read a release and don’t plan to.

Reporters Still Want to be Pitched

While some assignment desk editors request press releases ad nauseum, it is clear that most reporters still want to receive personalized, topically relevant pitches that highlight why their particular readers should care about a brand. Releases can serve as useful support in these efforts, but at the end of the day, they tend to be too long and full of corporate speak to provide a reporter with the real “story.” Reporters want the information that will help them pitch their editor successfully and complete a story quickly aka bullet points over lengthy releases.

Wire Services Are Expensive

If you are going to go ahead and take the time required to write a press release, it’s important that it is distributed through a reputable channel, which is most frequently a wire service. While there are several “top tier” options they all essentially utilize the same network of publications and portals. They are also all incredibly expensive for a service that may, or may not, be outdated. While a $1,000 price tag may seem small to a large corporation, that same cost could be a major investment for a startup, which begs the question: is the ROI really there for wiring a release?

Whether you believe the press release is still a worthwhile tool or think it’s as outdated as having a land line, what is clear is that having a compelling story to tell is more important than ever. Authentic brands that clearly and creatively communicate their value will be successful and break through the noise.

-Sarah

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Lions and Tigers and Barokas PR, Oh My! Hello Detroit.

May 23, 2017

 


As we approach Barokas PR’s 19th anniversary, our family has some exciting news to share with you.

Over the past year, we’ve met a ton of incredible people and explored several burgeoning tech markets across the country. The most exciting takeaway is that tech is thriving everywhere. You can be a tech entrepreneur, on your own terms, and not have to move to Silicon Valley or seek out VC funding to build a business. The options are more plentiful than ever.

What this means for Barokas PR is that we’ve found our third home – Detroit. A lot of our friends and family have asked the simple, yet loaded question, why Detroit?  To which we consistently respond, “Why not Detroit?”

Detroit is a place of unparalleled opportunity. The air is teeming with the excitement of a community experiencing a true renaissance. Having survived several decades in abandon and emerged from a city bankruptcy, Detroit is a place that echoes the values of hustle and grit; which has defined your Barokas PR team for nearly two decades.

Beyond the existential growth, Detroit is quickly finding its economic footing in the tech sector. The Michigan Venture Capital Association launched its annual VC growth report earlier this year, which highlighted a 48% increase in VC-backed startups in the state over the past five years. Furthermore, for every $1 invested in a Michigan startup by a Michigan VC firm, $4.61 out of state VC investments are attracted. Barokas PR clients are finding a home in Detroit, too. Techstars opened up their Mobility accelerator doors last year and Airbiquity has opened up an office in the city to keep a pulse on all things connected cars.

In addition to a growing tech scene, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the amazing music that’s come out of this incredible city. We’re in company of music Gods including the likes of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Rick James, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, Big Sean and of course the almighty Eminem. The music doesn’t end with Motown and Hip-Hop; Detroit is also the birthplace of Techno.

Nothing goes better than great music played loud in bangin’ cars. I won’t get started because I’ll never stop if you get me talking about all my true loves on 4-wheels that were born in Detroit. I’ll only mention two; a 1964  Impala 2 door (what I bought when I was 16 and I still have) and what I’m going to buy someday – a 1959 Cadillac Coupe Deville. Oh, Detroit how I love you, let me count the ways.

And Detroit is only the beginning. Our presence in Michigan will more readily open up our PR services to the Midwest. If you’re in Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minneapolis or any of the other growing tech corridors in the Midwest; Barokas PR wants to hear from you, work with you and help showcase the great tech stories flourishing between the coasts.

To start, you can find Barokas PR at WeWork Campus Martius on the 7th floor. Our team member, Rachel Fukaya, is heading up our Detroit office. You can always reach her at Rachel.Fukaya@Barokas.com. We’ll be looking to hire a few great employees and interns. Reach out to Rachel and the team, if you’re an awesome candidate.

If you’re in the neighborhood this week, come find us at our first event and happy hour with Detroit Startup Week. We’ll be at the Masonic Temple this Wednesday (May 24) at 3pm to talk “PR Minus the BS: How to get your startup press coverage,” with Adrienne Roberts (Wall Street Journal), Matt Burns (TechCrunch) and Chad Livengood (Crain’s Detroit Business).

For all of the above reasons, and at least a hundred more, we can’t wait to show you everything Detroit, and the Midwest, have to offer the tech community.

 

Barokas PR: Emerald City, Mile High City, Motor City.

-Howie

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Interviewing in the Age of Tinder

May 22, 2017

Preface: This post was written by someone who has never himself used Tinder. Additional points for background research?

Technology has changed the way we view and experience the world, and perhaps equally as important, the way we interact with and learn about each other.

Since the day Al Gore invented the internet (fact check), we’ve progressed from “You’ve Got Mail” to ubiquitous digital footprints in the form of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and yes, even Tinder.

While the benefits of our social personas being so public can be debated, their importance can’t be understated. It used to be viewed as a positive characteristic if you had no digital presence, now it’s suspicious.

To anyone who has grown up in the digital age, none of the above are groundbreaking revelations, nor are they meant to be. However, until a recent conversation with a colleague, I never thought about the amount of information that can be gleaned from these personas, specifically as it relates to a first interview, or in the case of Tinder, the first date.

According to my colleague Julia, the team had done a fair amount of stalking, errr, research, in advance of my first interview with BPR. While this isn’t surprising given the line of work we’re in, no detail went unnoticed, including the fact that I had a dog named Riley and a weird infatuation with weather.

Social Media

Another colleague summed up the necessity to stalk rather poetically, “Interviewing is like a date, you want to know if the person you’re meeting likes Nickelback before you make a commitment – the internet allows you to do that.”

The other side of the coin? Digital personas aren’t specific to individuals. Organizations, just like their employees must be cognizant of their online presence. You can tell a lot about a company by taking a cursory glance at their website, social media properties, Glassdoor reviews, etc. Just like dating, interviewing is a two-way street and it is incumbent upon organizations to put their best face forward as they attempt to attract the highest caliber of talent.

The point of this post? The interview is no longer your first impression and you should prepare your digital persona accordingly.

While there is no substitute for in-person interaction, the first impression you make on a potential employer (or suitor), is made well before meeting them. A public Instagram filled with questionable pictures may be enough for a future employer to swipe left before you even have a chance to meet them – be sure to post accordingly.

-Bryan

 

 

 

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PR 101 – Prepare For Your Plans to Fail!

May 19, 2017

Ever think you’ve got a foolproof plan in place, with everything mapped out perfectly? You’ve dotted every ‘i’, crossed every ‘t’, and just when you think things are coming up roses, someone or something comes along and takes your pretty little plan and smashes it to smithereens. No? Well then you haven’t worked in PR long enough.

In this crazy, fast moving profession we’ve chosen to make our own, planning is mission critical to setting our clients up for success and helping them achieve optimum business results. We plan out quarterly strategies, media outreach campaigns, social media calendars, speaker bureaus…you get the point. But here’s the thing about work, and life – sometimes things just don’t go according to plan.

Case in point: An article based on an extensive email Q&A with a top-tier reporter went live promptly at 7:01 am ET last Thursday morning, aka 5am in Denver. Woof. The article posted, the article was flagged, the story turned out great. But given the title of this blog post, you have likely already inferred that wasn’t the case. The client emailed us at 5:55am to let us know his peccadillos with the piece due to an accurate, but not preferred, description of the client’s product. To quote him directly, “[the CEO] is going to have a cow!” All hail our team that sprung into action to track down the reporter. See, she had just flown home from a few days in Vegas, so naturally she was catching up on some much-needed sleep. And even though it took a few nail-biting hours to hear back, we finally did and the reporter happily made our requested edits. All was well with the world once again. But so much for thinking we had it in the bag! Phew!

Second case in point, because why not regale you with a first-hand account of my latest brush with upended plans: Last week after a quick would-be day trip to Seattle, my travel buddy and I (hi, Holly!) missed our 7:45pm flight back to Denver. Missed the door closing by mere minutes. But here’s the kicker. We arrived to the airport with ample time to spare. Since we had a couple hours, though, we sat down to enjoy a meal before hopping on our flight home. Then next thing we know, we’re full-on sprinting to our gate, which we didn’t realize required a tram ride to reach…oy. With my bag full of Barokas PR tchotchkes literally ripping apart Kevin McCallister-style, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at our ridiculous blunder. Admittedly, I did a little of both.

Anyway, moral of the stories here is that sometimes, even when we put together the most detailed plans for our clients (or ourselves), things can still fall to pieces in the blink of an eye. But it’s at precisely these moments where we can prove our value for clients. They put their trust in us and when we’re confronted with obstacles, the onus is on us to be flexible and pivot when and where we need to at any time. Sometimes there’s something we’ve missed, like where our airport gate is actually located…blerg. Sometimes, there’s a force out of our control, like a rocket that doesn’t launch on time or an article that doesn’t please your client like you’d hoped. Whatever the circumstances, in business and in life, we have to be agile. The world is a complicated place, and we humans can be really dumb sometimes, so it’s good to be flexible and open minded about things. Instead of having one plan, have a few, and revise as necessary. And remember, unexpected turns are always the best learning experiences. Think I’ll ever miss a flight again?! Not this girl.

– Jen

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Are You an Inclusive Leader?

May 17, 2017

This past year, Barokas PR implemented a professional development program to allow employees to allocate time towards personal growth. As part of my own path, I decided to take an online course about communicating effectively with empowerment. As a PR practitioner, I wanted to build upon my existing skillset to more effectively communicate as a leader to both my internal team and to the client. Throughout the course, I learned a lot of helpful communication skills. The one that I found most interesting is that inclusive leaders are effective communicators. This is something that any employee, in any role, can implement today.

What is an inclusive leader you ask? Well thanks to my class, I can tell you. Being an inclusive leader means that you’re effectively using your communication skills to help others feel valued and heard. Research shows that inclusive leadership can drive productivity, loyalty and motivation within a company.

Here at Barokas PR, effective communication is a critical part of each team member’s role. No matter what your title, everyone is given the opportunity to lead, provide direction, and deliver feedback to others on the account team. While it would be nice if inclusive leadership was a natural trait, learning these skills often requires time and practice.

Here are the four key attributes behind inclusive leadership:

  1. Empowerment: You enable those reporting to you to develop and excel
  2. Accountability: Demonstrate confidence in those reporting to you by holding them responsible for performance they can control
  3. Courage: Put personal interests aside to achieve what needs to be done; act on convictions even when it requires personal risk taking.
  4. Humility: Admit mistakes. Accept and learn from criticism and differing points of view; see contributions of others to overcome limitations.

From AAE to CEO, everyone can use these inclusive leadership skills to become an effective communicator. Communication should be about empowering others and giving them the opportunity to feel valued. So next time there is a tough situation, it’s important to not think about what you will say, but to think about the timing or how you communicate a message in a situation to get the desired result.

-Marney

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We Give a Shit. Introducing Our Corporate Social Responsibility Program

May 8, 2017

There’s something you should know about Barokas PR. We give a shit. We care about our clients, we care about each other, and we care about our communities. Today, we are proud to launch our official Barokas PR Corporate Social Responsibility program outlining our commitment and offerings as a company.

CorporateSocialResponsibility

When we met in Denver for our Annual All Hands earlier this year, we discussed the values behind who we are and what we do. This theme of community bubbled up to the top of the list – beyond our relationships with the technology community, we are passionate about being a conscientious steward of the places we call home.

While we have already made steps in this direction, with providing media relations to pro bono accounts and volunteering in our local communities, we wanted to make this value a permanent part of Barokas PR’s identity. Today, we are proud to unveil our official CSR program.

Pro Bono Accounts

Good non-profit organizations focus their energy on making a difference through their work, leaving little time and resources to focus on public relations. That’s where we step in. Each year, we will select a handful of 501 (c)(3) organizations to support via impactful PR initiatves. We partner with these non-profits to make a positive impact in the world while growing their business. Whether it’s media relations or developing social strategies, we help them drive powerful connections between themselves and the greater good. Most recently, a team from Denver worked with the Global Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) program, which led to this great article in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Volunteering

In addition to offering each employee eight hours of PTO to volunteer, we plan quarterly all-office volunteer events to bring our teams closer to our communities. From serving meals at the Union Gospel Mission to picking squash for a food bank or hosting a Thanksgiving Hunger Games food drive, we thrive in banding together to help those who need it most. We also work hand-in-hand with our clients to support them at their volunteer activities, adding another layer to the meaning of true partnership.

Supporting Activism

Sometimes “we give a shit” means we care about what our coworkers care about. This past year has brought a lot of important causes to light, and Barokas PR is committed to supporting employees who are passionate about activism. From giving a day off to protest in Washington DC to matching donations to the ACLU, Barokas PR aims to go above and beyond to support employees.

While there are many business reasons to create a CSR program – increased employee engagement, good optics, etc., it’s refreshing to work for an agency that is doing it because it’s part of who we are.

-Constance & Julia

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How PR can help restore public trust in the media

May 5, 2017

According to a late 2016 Gallup poll, only 32% of respondents had a “great deal or fair amount of trust in the media.” This statistic is unsurprising at best, given the rise of “fake news” permeating today’s headlines and social media feeds.

CNN’s Brian Stelter gave a heartfelt plea after the election on the importance of standing up for truth. His plea was aimed at journalists, but can easily apply to PR professionals as well. He said “…Don’t tell half-truths, don’t shade the truth. Don’t fear the truth. And then we can focus on the other ‘t’ word – trust.”

For PR professionals, the fact that consumers are becoming more splintered, skeptical and confused about which sources to trust is concerning. After all, the media is the main lifeline of our work. Newspapers, nightly newscasts, radio shows and numerous other mediums are our partners in storytelling. This begs the question, how can we, as communications specialists, thrive in the changing landscape?

  • Know which outlets are reputable and which are not. There’s a long list of “fake news” sites, but understanding what makes an outlet trustworthy in the first place is an important step in combating fake news. Does the outlet employ fact checkers? Are the stories without a clear and obvious bias? Are they written by a real person? Is the headline simply click bait? While some clients may see value in having a story placed in a buzzy online site that gets millions of monthly views, being associated with a notoriously dishonest outlet will ultimately hurt reputations. Quality and respect is always more important than quantity or views.
  • Supply journalists with only accurate, real information. It’s also imperative to ensure the pitches and releases we send can be verified against scrupulous fact checkers and that our claims and promises hold tight under scrutiny. The reputations of both the media and the PR industry depend on our trustworthiness.
  • Expand PR capabilities. With the splintering of audiences and trust, media relations should not be the be all, end all for communications professionals. If traditional media relations is your bread and butter, it may be time to consider expanding your capabilities and skills to adapt to the changing landscape. PR campaigns can and should (in most cases) span digital and social media, event marketing, and other emerging trends.

As the media industry is facing an uncertain future, PR professionals must do all we can to ensure media’s longevity and reputation as a trustworthy source of (real) facts. Let’s do our part.

-Holly

 

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The importance of (social) media monitoring

May 3, 2017

PR crisis, with the most viral ones coming from Pepsi and everyone’s least favorite airline, United. While the situations differ greatly, the resulting PR misfires have one thing in common: both companies underestimated the power of social media in creating an echo chamber of outrage, and offered up tone-deaf, highly out-of-touch responses that were inappropriate for the level of public backlash they were facing. But had Pepsi and United simply listened (via social media) both companies could have better responded to their respective audiences.

While Pepsi’s ad was intended to reach millennials, reactions on Twitter (largely from their target audience) were swift and fierce, as a slew of Tweets accused Pepsi of appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement for profit. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., also Tweeted an image of her father mid-peaceful protest with the caption, “if only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi.” Pepsi quickly pulled the ad, and issued an apology saying it “missed the mark” but many consumers pledged across social media to boycott the brand.

Just as Pepsi’s colossal misstep was fading from memory, United Airlines said “my turn” and experienced what was maybe the worst PR week in recent memory after forcibly removing a passenger from an overbooked flight. After dozens of passengers livestreamed the altercation on social media, the footage went viral and United Airlines released a rushed – then revised – apology at least twice. This didn’t do United any favors, as many thought the CEO underestimated the situation. This inspired a new wave of outrage.

In both situations, the communications team failed to understand why people were upset, and issue a response commensurate to public opinion. This is where social listening would have been incredibly valuable.

Social listening is the process of monitoring what users online are saying about a company or brand to better inform communications strategies. In-depth social listening goes beyond @mentions or direct comments on a company’s social media profile or website, and instead, casts a wider net, tracking hashtags, keywords and phrases, and monitoring public non-social sources like blogs, forums, reviews and news outlets. Social listening can also incorporate sentiment, assigning a positive, negative or neutral score to each mention found. This makes results especially easy to filter and can raise an alarm if negative sentiment begins to spike.

Pepsi and United likely already use social media monitoring tools, but clearly didn’t align those with their PR department and crisis management team well enough. Both companies would have seen their negative scores soar as online users reacted to the news – even more ambiguous spikes in #united or #pepsi could have raised some alarm bells.

Have you used listening tools to inform a company decision in a time of uncertainty? If not, you still have the chance to try it… we hear United is hiring.

-Holly

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